Showing posts from May, 2013

Walk: Mellow meanderings to the Yellow Peak

Aberdeenshire | Ballater | Half day walk | ★★★

Several excellent walks vie for attention for the walker arriving at Ballater, but Sgor Buidhe (Yellow Peak) is probably the quietest of the bunch. If it weren't for the wooden signs, you might never know the hill existed at all: it's an unassuming plateau hidden away behind oft-frequented Craigendarroch, the summit not even handed the dignity of a name on OS maps. Once you get there, the views of hills including moody Lochnagar, Mount Keen and Morven surpass those of its popular rival, even if the immediate surroundings aren't so dramatic. One to escape the crowds.

📌 Walk: Mellow meanderings to the Yellow Peak ★★★
Start / finish at car park at Ballater visitor centre, Braemar Road (A93), Ballater village centre, G.R.: NO 370959 ///footsteps.blotchy.narrating

▶ 12 km / 7 mi | ▲ 410 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: Ballater; △ Sgor Buidhe / Creagan Riabhach (547 m)
Terrain: Mostly hill tracks with a couple of shortish bogg…

Walk: All hail Mount Battock!

Angus | Angus Glens | Full day walk | ★★★

Mount Battock should be considered an essential destination for any Aberdonian walker. Quickly reached by road as Scotland's most easterly Corbett, the ugly hill tracks that abound in this region admittedly enable a quick ascent. Make sure to add in a return along the picturesque Burn of Turret, full of fish and a nice change from the open moorland by this stage in the day. The electric fence we spent ages trying to cross without touching above the Hill of Saughs turned out not to be electrified after all. In fact, the biggest shock we received was from the huge hail storm in the photo above, arriving overhead just as we reached the summit.

📌 Walk: All hail Mount Battock! ★★★
Start / finish at car park on minor road at Millden phone box, 3 mi east of Tarfside, Glen Esk, G.R.: NO 540789 ///horizons.visit.escapades

▶ 16 km / 10 mi | ▲ 760 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough
Features: △ Mount Een (529 m); △ Mount Battock (778 m, Corbett)
Terrain: Mostly c…

Braemar Castle

Aberdeenshire | Braemar | Castle | ★★★

Braemar Castle can be glimpsed from the main road through Deeside just short of Braemar village. This L-plan tower house was built by the 2nd Earl of Mar in the 17th century, and has been owned by the local community since 2007. Tours of the interior run on an increasing number of spring, summer and autumn dates; the castle is also visited by a spur of our Creag Choinnich walk.

Location & info

📌 Braemar Castle★★★
By the A93 1 mi north of Braemar, G.R.: NO 156924 ///delighted.both.revives
Open daily, July, August & most of September; Sunday to Friday, early September; Wednesday to Sunday, April to June & October | £10 adult / £4 child

Walk: Prowling around Creag Choinnich to the Lion's Face

Aberdeenshire | Braemar | Half day walk | ★★★

A short but steep, there-and-back detour to Creag Choinnich is the culmination of this pretty walk around the hill's base. En-route there are plenty of interesting landmarks: the towering rock walls of the Lion's Face (although whoever called it that evidently haven't seen a lion before), and the seemingly out-of-place war trenches dug alongside the A93 on the approach to Braemar Castle - itself worth exploring when open to visitors. And Braemar too: packed with good pubs, gift shops and Highland charm.

📌 Walk: Prowling around Creag Choinnich to the Lion's Face ★★★
Start / finish at car park on Balnellan Road, Braemar village centre, G.R.: NO 152914 ///cascaded.twin.glad

▶ 7 km / 4 mi | ▲ 440 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: Braemar; Lion's Face; WWII trenches; Braemar Castle; △ Creag Choinnich (538 m)
Terrain: Good paths and (briefly) tracks throughout, steep for the ascent to and descent from Creag Choinnich.


Fyvie Castle

Aberdeenshire | Fyvie | Castle | ★★★

"Big" and "pink" are the first things you're likely to notice when you first see Fyvie Castle - an 800-year old castle on the main route between Aberdeen and Banff. The fortress has slightly unclear origins - it may have been built by William the Lion in 1211 - but certainly held status as a royal residence for a number of decades before passing through the hands of five different, wealthy families. Each family added a tower to the structure, resulting in the grand and substantial mansion on view today. Tours run by the National Trust for Scotland allow viewings of the sumptuous Edwardian interiors, impressive collection of portraits and ghostly tales. Meanwhile, don't miss the fabolous grounds for woodland walks and a slender loch rich in birdlife.

Location & info

📌 Fyvie Castle★★★
By minor road end 1 mi north of Fyvie, G.R.: NJ 764393 ///boast.identify.planet
Open daily, late March to September; Friday to Monday, Oc…

Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

Aberdeenshire | Fraserburgh | Museum | ★★★★

The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses is a truly excellent museum, and the coastal town of Fraserburgh's shining light - literally. The main part of the museum has an impressive series of exhibits and galleries about, well, lighthouses, their history and how they work, but you don't need to be a lighthouse obsessive to find it interesting. The actual lighthouse at Kinnaird Head is also next door, on the headland marking the far northeastern point of Aberdeenshire, and uniquely housed on top of a 16th century castle! Guided tours take you right to the top, with the excellent views you'd expect from any lighthouse.

Location & info

📌 Museum of Scottish Lighthouses★★★★
Stevenson Road, 10-min walk north of Fraserburgh town centre, G.R.: NJ 999675 ///decisions.lifted.vase
Open daily, late March to October; Wednesday to Sunday, November to late March | £8.80 adult / £3.85 child

RSPB Troup Head

Aberdeenshire | Crovie | Nature reserve | ★★★

Troup Head is Scotland's only mainland gannetry, a seabird city home to thousands of gannets and their chicks (and smaller numbers of other seabirds, including a few puffins if you're lucky) every spring and summer. If you suffer from vertigo then perhaps stay away - the views from the guano-stained cliffs down to the waves crashing on rocks 100 metres below are pretty dizzying.

Location & info

📌 RSPB Troup Head★★★
Minor road end 2 mi northeast of Crovie, G.R.: NJ 825672 ///present.cabbages.moss
Always open | Free

💬 The car park is right at the end of a progressively narrow lane north from the minor road to Northfield Farm. Keep going until you think you've gone too far, then you'll see the car park on the right. The cliffs are a 10-min walk from here along tracks and field boundaries.

Walk: Drinking in the views from Ben Newe

Aberdeenshire | Strathdon | Short walk | ★★★

Half our battle in ascending this forested hill above Strathdon was the access track to the parking area. If your car survives in one piece, a pleasantly small but rocky summit rises above the trees. According to myth, one of the hollows in a boulder at the top never empties of water. For life fulfillment, the legend instructs visitors to leave a small object in the well and drink from it, but that doesn't sound particularly hygienic! The summit affords great views over the rolling hills surrounding Strathdon and Glen Buchat, including Glenbuchat Castle, with the high start point and steep gradients making for a quick ascent. The route was probably clearly waymarked at some point in the past, but nowadays you really need a map.

📌 Walk: Drinking in the views from Ben Newe ★★★
Start / finish at car park off minor road 1 mi northeast of Bellabeg, G.R.: NJ 374137 ///plays.wordplay.ground. Access track to car park has a high camber unsuitabl…

Corgarff Castle

Aberdeenshire | Cock Bridge | Castle | ★★★

The whitewashed walls of Corgarff Castle give it a deceptively welcoming appearance as you approach through otherwise bleak countryside from the nearby car park. Originally built as a residence for Clan Forbes in the 16th century, the tower house's remote but strategic location on a key north-south road through the Highlands led to its conversion into barracks for government troops in 1748, following the final Jacobite rebellion. Unlike many Historic Scotland properties, Corgarff's exterior is still intact, with various rooms decorated to show what life as a soldier would have been like. Cold, based on our visit...

Location & info

📌 Corgarff Castle★★★
Off A939 at Cock Bridge, G.R.: NJ 254087 ///
Open daily, April to September | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members

💬 From the car park at G.R.: NJ 254089 /// it's a 5-min uphill walk to the castle on a good trac…

Walk: Tomintoul taster

Moray | Tomintoul | Short walk | ★★

Tomintoul probably won't ever win any awards for beauty itself, but it deserves some recognition as the highest village of any size in the Highlands. And it sits amongst marvellous surroundings: the wilderness of the high Cairngorms to the south, the Ladder Hills to the east and the Hills of Cromdale to the north. Exploring this region often calls for major expeditions, but this short circuit around the village could be a good introduction to the area, marked out by the Glenlivet Estate. Distant but tantalising views of high mountains will soon have you poring over the map and planning more serious trips.

📌 Walk: Tomintoul taster ★★
Start / finish at The Square (A939) (street parking), Tomintoul village centre, G.R.: NJ 169187 ///flask.gurgling.bill

▶ 4 km / 2 mi | ▲ 70 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: Tomintoul; Conglass Water; Victor Gaffney viewpoint
Terrain: Excellent paths, some track sections.

Route & map

Start & Tomintoul - Spooky Wood …

Drumin Castle

Moray | Glenlivet | Castle | ★★

The remains of this 14th century tower house stand on a ridge above the River Livet just before it joins the River Avon. Not much is known about the castle, but its southwestern side still reaches three storeys high, with newish stairs leading part way up. For the owners of the houses next door, it must be nice to have an ancient building such as this practically in your garden. For anyone else, it's worth a stop if passing thorough Glenlivet.

Location & info

📌 Drumin Castle ★★
Off minor road linking the B9006 & B9136 1 mi west of Bridge of Livet, NJ 184303 ///monk.fruits.marshes
Always open | Free

💬 From the car park at G.R.: NJ 185304 ///tutorial.carpets.fees it's a 2-min walk uphill to the castle. A slightly longer loop to the north provides an alternative return route.